BALI, Indonesia– U.S. Indo-Pacific Command concluded its 34th annual International Military Law and Operations Conference (MILOPS 23) in Bali, Indonesia.
More than 150 participants from more than 30 countries traveled to the four-day event, which focused on topics ranging from environmental challenges, territorial claims, integrated deterrence and strategic competition as seen through the lens of international law.
Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, addressed the MILOPS participants, providing a strategic focus of the Indo-Pacific region. He emphasized the role of legal experts as critical enablers for regional commanders to enhance legitimacy of activities while exposing flawed legal narratives and challenges to the rules-based international order.
“All of our nations need to adhere to the laws, and I would argue we do that every day,” Aquilino said. “We operate together, we fly, steam, and sail anywhere international law allows in order to defend our nations and provide the prosperity that our countries deserve and need. Those demonstrations of international law are critical.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Muhammad Herindra, Deputy Minister of Defense for the Republic of Indonesia, said the event provided an opportunity for important conversations and collaborative relationships.
"This conference has the ultimate goal of becoming a transparent discussion forum for all legal entities, both military and civilian, to find the best solution collectively, to reduce tension, conflict escalation and security threats, and to maintain stability, security and peace in the Indo-Pacific region,” Herindra said. "The completion of disputes through peaceful resolution has proven to be successful in maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific for more than 70 years which I believe can be implemented in other regions for global sustainable peace and security."
The theme for this year’s conference was “Cooperating to Defend the Rules Based International Order in the Indo-Pacific.” Throughout the week, lectures, panels and discussions fostered sincere and transparent dialogue and discussions on the challenges facing the region, and the wide-ranging impacts of international law on diplomatic, informational, military and economic efforts.
Aquilino stressed the networking and strengthening of partnership through person-to-person ties as a main objective of the conference.
“There is no group in the region that knows how to interpret international law better than those who are sitting here today,” Aquilino said. “So, reach out to your partners. The relationships you build here allow you to have that collaboration and coordination … continue that dialogue. The exchange of ideas and interpretations is critical.”